Cepeda: Report shows many children still can’t read

CHICAGO — Listen in on any parent-teacher conference and you’ll hear teachers asking, “What is your most pressing concern for your child?” Nine times out of 10, parents of elementary-school students will answer: “I want him/her to read better.”

Difficulties with reading are a major roadblock to students’ overall academic success, and the statistics are startling.

Nearly a third of all fourth-graders failed to reach a “basic” level of reading ability, according to a 2017 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ Nation’s Report Card on Reading. And by eighth grade, nearly a quarter of students still didn’t have such basic skills as identifying statements of main idea, theme or author’s purpose; making simple inferences from texts; or interpreting the meaning of a word based on how it is used.

Needless to say, these are averages — reading scores for black, Hispanic and Native-American/Pacific-Islander students are even lower. As a general rule, affluent white children are taught literacy skills at home and arrive at school largely able to read, whereas low-income children’s parents expect that reading instruction will be the sole purview of the school.

This inconsistency in home support is magnified when you factor in the preparation that teachers bring to the singularly crucial task of reading instruction.

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According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), 40 states (including D.C.) still either do not have sufficient licensing tests on the science of reading in place for elementary and special-education teachers, or they have no test at all. And only 11 states have adequate tests for people applying to be elementary-school or special-education teachers, even though 80 percent of students assigned to special education are there because of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Walters: DMV’s a hot mess–so why, why, why did state block audit?

During two lengthy Capitol hearings last week, legislators took turns castigating the Department of Motor Vehicles and its director, Jean Shiomoto, over Californians’ hours-long waits for service, often in the hot sun, at DMV offices.

The chorus was bipartisan, with lawmakers reminding Shiomoto that the DMV is the most frequent contact Californians have with their state government, and its failures undermine public confidence in that government.

Shiomoto was a little defensive, pointing out that with the federal government demanding more secure “REAL ID” driver’s licenses and with the Legislature authorizing licenses for undocumented immigrants and making DMV a voter registration agency, the department’s workload had increased.

However, she told the first hearing, “I want to apologize to our customers,” adding, “the public deserves better.”

Yes it does, and the Legislature could have prodded service improvements by authorizing state Auditor Elaine Howle to delve into DMV operations, report on why service had deteriorated so suddenly after years of improvement and recommend ways to fix it.

However, after the second hearing, the legislative committee that oversees Howle’s office refused to approve a DMV audit, even though it quickly approved others of relatively minor, even local, operations that have little impact on 40 million Californians.

Three Democratic state senators refused to vote on the DMV audit after, it became evident, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office had intervened. The tipoff to that intervention was contained in a Twitter posting by one of the three senators, Santa Monica’s Ben Allen.

“Gov. Brown’s office called to give me the governor’s commitment to address the issues raised under the audit request,” Allen said.

The DMV imbroglio is illuminating, to wit:

It’s the latest example of embarrassing mismanagement by state officials in recent years, including countless failures of very expensive “information technology” programs, fiscal chicanery in the Department of Parks and Recreation, horrendous cost overruns and construction defects …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Turkish central bank struggles to hold lira’s slide

By Kareem Fahim | Washington Post

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s central bank announced new measures Monday aimed at halting the rapid depreciation of the country’s currency, the lira, which has been battered by worries over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stewardship of the economy and his escalating feud with the United States.

After the lira plummeted to a record low overnight, the central bank said in a statement that it would “take all necessary measures to maintain financial stability” and provide banks with all the liquidity they required. The currency recovered somewhat after the central bank’s statement and a pledge by Turkey’s finance minister to lay out an action plan to stem the lira’s losses.

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The currency has lost more than 40 percent against the dollar this year, reflecting market concerns about Turkey’s overheated economy, the debt exposure of its banks and companies and Erdogan’s opposition to raising interest rates, which financial analysts say could help stem the currency’s slide.

Turkey’s worsening feud with the Trump administration has also put pressure on the currency. The two governments have been arguing bitterly over Turkey’s prosecution of Andrew Brunson, a pastor from North Carolina accused by the Turkish authorities of terrorism-related charges.

U.S. officials have called the charges groundless and demanded that Brunson, who remains under house arrest, be allowed to return to the United States. Following unsuccessful negotiations last week to resolve Brunson’s case, President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he was imposing new tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, sending the lira into free-fall.

On Monday, in an apparent reference to the United States, Erdogan told a gathering of foreign ambassadors that “the bullies of the global system cannot roughly, shamelessly encroach on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Trump blames Kasich for close primary in Ohio

By Felicia Sonmez | Washington Post

President Donald Trump on Monday blamed Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the lackluster performance of their party’s nominee in a heavily Republican district last week, in an apparent effort to counter critics of his own impact on the race.

Trump made the comments in a tweet that came one day after Kasich, a potential 2020 presidential contender who is among Trump’s most prominent GOP critics, said in an appearance on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that the nail-biter 12th Congressional District race was a warning from voters to the Republican Party.

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“The very unpopular Governor of Ohio (and failed presidential candidate) @JohnKasich hurt Troy Balderson’s recent win by tamping down enthusiasm for an otherwise great candidate,” Trump said. “Even Kasich’s Lt. Governor lost Gov. race because of his unpopularity. Credit to Troy on the BIG WIN!”

Troy Balderson, the Republican nominee, remains neck-and-neck with Democrat Danny O’Connor in the race, which has not yet been called nearly one week after voters went to the polls. Regardless who wins the special election, the two candidates will face each other again in November.

Trump swept into Ohio the weekend before the special election, and in a tweet last week, he sought to take credit for Balderson’s apparent victory.


— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) August 13, 2018

Kasich responded to Trump on Monday in a tweet that contained no words but featured an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin smiling and laughing.

A Quinnipiac poll in June showed Kasich far outpacing Trump in terms of approval among Ohio voters. Fifty-two percent of registered Ohio voters approve of the job Kasich is doing as governor, while 43 percent …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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